When it comes to taking care of your toothbrush, do you give it much thought? If you have not been, it is time to! Your toothbrush is a tool designed to clean bacteria-laden plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. If you are not caring for your toothbrush properly, you are using a dirty tool expecting it to do a good job at cleaning – and that is very unlikely to happen. Below are helpful things to remember about caring for your toothbrush so that it efficiently helps to clean your teeth.
- Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use. As you brush your teeth, plaque buildup is loosened by the bristles on your toothbrush. While a good deal of this plaque is spit out of your mouth, there will be some that is trapped between the bristles of your toothbrush. Rinsing your toothbrush under fast, running water after each use helps to rinse away lingering plaque.
- Allow your toothbrush to air dry. As with all bacteria, the bacteria that make up the plaque inside your teeth thrive in a moist environment. It is important that you keep your toothbrush uncovered so that it is allowed to air dry quickly after each use. If you must cover your toothbrush for travel, make sure that it is completely dry before packing. Better yet, use a separate toothbrush when travelling so that you do not have to rapidly pack one that is damp.
- Keep your toothbrush away from the toilet. You may not give this much thought – and who would, because it’s disgusting – but each time you flush your toilet there is overspray that enters the air. This overspray contains urine and fecal matter, and it will land on anything in its path. By keeping your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible, you will help protect it. Enough said.
- Do not share your toothbrush. Remember, with every use, the bristles of your toothbrush will have plaque trapped between them. If you are sharing your toothbrush with someone else, his or her plaque is also going to be trapped in the bristles. This means that you are voluntarily putting someone else’s plaque inside your own mouth. Gross!
- Replace your toothbrush often. Your toothbrush should be used at least twice a day, and with that frequency of use it will need to be replaced often. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every 3-6 months to ensure that you are using a clean tool to clean your teeth. This is why your dentist gives you a new toothbrush at each visit.
- Replace your toothbrush after illness. As with bacteria, germs can linger for days. If you have recently been ill with a cold, the flu, strep, a stomach virus, or another illness, it is important that you replace your toothbrush so that you do not re-introduce those same germs into your system.